by Sarah Graham
Many anglers are preparing for the opening of the new angling season on Saturday 7 August and it's shaping up to be another good one with the fishery in excellent health as a result of last year’s drought breaking rains. There are many great fishing locations around the State from which to choose for the opening weekend and early season fishing but here are a few suggestions.
As we go to print many of Tassie's rivers are still in flood, most of the major storages are filling nicely and a number of those dams on the Mersey/Forth and Derwent river systems have been spilling for two months. What all this means to the avid trout angler is that we are simply spoilt for choice of locations at the moment. Great Lake is one storage that has risen dramatically this year coming up almost four meters.
Approximately 16 kilometres long and rarely more than half a kilometre wide, Lake Barrington is a deep clear lake with mostly steep tree lined shores. The Hydro Electric Commission built three dams on the Forth River to form Lake Cethana, Lake Barrington and Paloona Dam. Lake Barrington is best known for its international rowing course and is a popular water skiing destination during summer. Over recent years the Inland Fisheries have transformed this lake into a viable fishing destination with it's extensive stocking program. The lake has a healthy population of rainbow and brown trout. Small rainbows up to 0.5 of a kilo can be very active, dominating the catch at times. The browns on the other hand can be a bit more elusive, but generally larger in size, some reaching well above double figures. Over the last five years, large ex-brood stock Atlantic salmon have been introduced into the Lake, some up to 30 pounds, testing the nerves of even the most seasoned anglers. The lake is one of the few in our State that is open to all forms of freshwater fishing throughout the year. A five fish per angler bag limit applies to Atlantic salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout with a minimum size of 300mm.
By the time July and August comes around, the browns in Great Lake are back in feeding mode, after spending the last couple of months spawning. Stick caddis, the Great Lake Shrimp and native galaxia and paragalaxias are highly sort after by these fish at this time. The galaxia and paragalaxias are small native fish that inhabit Great Lake. The majority of these inhabit the shallower margins of the lake; making shore based wet fly fishing a productive option. The colourations of these small native fish range from golden brown through to dark grey or black and are generally around 40 to 50 mm in length. Many trout, early in the season, find it hard to refuse a well-presented fly that even remotely resembles one of these fish.
Highly skilled, well lucky really, Devonport angler and international celebrity John Lyons nearly had heart failure when he caught the first glimpse of this fish. Stripping a Black Woolly Bugger at Arthurs Lake on Saturday 16 October John thought he had just hooked another nice Arthurs Lake brownie. How wrong he was though as he spent a very tense and nervous time getting this 11.5 pound fish to the net.
Although John rarely goes fishing without a camera, but this time he did. A quick call to some mates had the cameras rolling and after an hour at the boat ramp showing off it was back to his shack for a few celebratory bevies.
Although big fish are uncommon at Arthurs a few are caught each year. Fish of four pounds are at the top end of what can be expected at Arthurs, six pounds is a very large fish, so 11.5 pounds is a fish of a lifetime. It is most likely the biggest Arthurs fish on fly for many years if not ever.
Joe Riley looks at the tail end of the trout season and encourages anglers to make the best of it. You can be sure he will.
As daylight savings comes to pass and the days grow cooler through autumn, winter approaches and the brown trout season draws to a close. All is not despair though as there are still fish to be caught, even the prospect of specimen dry fly fishing in the highland lakes on the warmer days. It's the last surge to make the most out of a season which has been challenged by water draw downs, blustery weather and controversy over one of the world's finest brown trout lakes coming under threat from irrigation schemes.
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